Who can resist a freshly brewed, aromatic cup of coffee, prepared right from the comfort of your home or office? A good cup of coffee can sometimes be all you need to give you that all essential kick to wake you up in the morning or in the middle of a tiring, brain-wrecking work session. For me, I work anticipating the coffee-breaks. It’s what keeps me going. But before I actually went all out in my research for the best coffee, I had no idea there were so many factors affecting the quality of my coffee. I always used to wonder how they get those perfect espresso and latte brews in those high-end coffee shops and wish I could develop the same taste from my home coffee machine. I tried with different exotic beans, different roasts, but somehow, I was never able to experience the same thing. It was only after a lot of research that I found out that the grinding method also has a huge impact on the end product. Thus began my journey experimenting with some of the best known brands in the coffee-maker realm.

Let me share with you some of the things I learned in my journey.

Making a Fine Espresso Shot

A number of elements and techniques go into making a fine shot of espresso. The ultimate quality of the espresso is subject to the temperature of the water, the pressure of the water, fineness of the ground coffee and the tamping of the grounds (how tightly they are packed), among many other factors.

Espresso coffee is composed of a blend of different types of coffee beans from different countries. These beans are roasted till dark and shiny. Next, they are ground very finely, almost to the consistency of powdered sugar. The finer the grind, the slower the process of extracting the espresso. Generally, the best shot of espresso requires about 25 seconds for the water to pass through a batch of nicely packed ground coffee. In order to control the brewing time, the consistency of the grind is normally adjusted manually.

What sets an espresso apart from other forms of coffee, like drip coffee is the fineness of the grind and the brewing time. The brewing time for an espresso coffee is much shorter, and this is made possible by espresso machines that can generate pressures of up to 15 ATM (atmospheres) to force the water through the coffee. Fineness of the grind is essential if you want to extract the full flavor of the essential oils from the coffee beans and get the characteristic ‘crema’ on top.

After passing about 1.5 ounces of nearly boiling water through finely ground and tamped coffee grains, you get a dark brown, slightly thick liquid with a thin foam on top, also referred to as ‘crema’. This my friends is a shot of the exquisite espresso.

There are a myriad of espresso machines on offer in the market nowadays and the objective of all of them in the end are the same, to give you a mean shot of espresso that you can sip on to kick start your senses. They differ, however, in terms of the kind of grinders used, the over-all look of the machine, the size and shape of the hopper to store the beans and addition or subtraction of one or two features. No matter what machine you use, the secret to a good cup of coffee is in the consistency of the grind. And that is what will guarantee quality coffee in every cup.

I present here, four of my favorite picks in espresso machines and grinders.

Four Best Coffee Grinders and Espresso Makers with Consumer Review


Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe Coffee and Espresso Maker by Breville

At first sight, the Nespresso Vertuo Plus from Breville is a cute, almost sci-fi looking espresso machine, which honestly reminded me of R2D2 from the Star Wars series. Nice and compact in size, it can fit in anywhere with a little bit of counter space.

It comes in different colors, like white, cherry red, gray, silver and black, each one more delightful than the other. And its futuristic features doesn’t just end at the looks. Functionally too, Nespresso ushers in a new concept in coffee machines and that is its unique Centrifusion™ technology, which is a patented technology, developed by Nespresso themselves.

The machine has been designed to work with only Nespresso capsules, an array of pretty easter egg-like assortments, each optimized to produce one cup of delicious and authentic coffee of your choice. They come in a variety of brew styles and sizes, like Lungo, Alto and Espresso, with the Espresso capsule, in a smaller size than the others, for obvious reasons. Each capsule delivers a fine blend of roasted and ground coffee sealed in a single serve portion to guarantee optimal freshness. It comes in 4 authentic Espresso Grands Cru varieties. A single capsule can make 1.35 ounces of espresso, 5 ounces of Gran Lungo or 14 ounces of Alto. In the beginning, I was a little concerned about the fact that pre-ground coffee runs the risk of lost flavor, but I must say, the final outcome kind of surprised me. I’m guessing it’s owing to the hermetically sealed packaging of the capsules.

Once activated, the Centrifusion will cause the capsule to spin at up to 7000 rotations per minute, blending the ground coffee with the water to produce the perfect crema for your coffee. The water tank that comes with the deluxe version can hold up to 60 oz of water. It also comes with a drip tray to catch any spills and falls. In the end, the used capsule container is discarded in a canister at the back.

For the versatility this product offers, the ease of operation seems almost too good to be true. This makes it perfect for the layman coffee maker, who knows a good cuppa when he drinks one, but has no idea how to achieve it. All you need to do is just insert a capsule of your choice, close the lever and the green light around the button will let you know your machine is ready. From here, with just the touch of a single button, you can get the machine to make you your desired coffee for your preferred cup size. Each capsule has all details of the settings put on it in the form of a barcode and the machine automatically reads the code and adjusts its settings. So it saves you the pain of making the adjustments yourself. All you have to is adjust the cup support, which can be customized to accommodate different cup and recipe sizes.

Each machine you order will come with a welcome set of 12 Nespresso capsules of the 4 different authentic Grand Crus. So you can test them out to see which one’s your favorite. Once these get over, you can easily order more online or from one of Nespresso’s boutique stores. Another of Nespresso’s unique strategies include their Nespresso Club helpline which will give you an immediate technical diagnosis and a solution to your problem. If your machine needs repairing during the guarantee period, they will even collect it from your home and provide you with a free loan machine till the time yours is fixed.

Nespresso Coffee and Espresso Machine

Features

  • Weight: 10.1 Pounds
  • Removable water tank: 57.5 Ounces
  • Automatic shut off after 9 mn, programmable
  • Used capsules container capacity: 10 Mug capsules (Large)
  • Heat up time: 20 Second
  • Power rating (in watts): 1300 Watt
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Makes two cup sizes at the touch of a button: 8 oz. Coffee and 1.35 oz. Espresso.
  • Welcome pack containing 12 Nespresso Grands Crus capsules
  • Smart Start Folder

Some reviews received from consumers of this product were as follows

The Nespresso VertuoPlus is so easy to use and makes such delicious coffee! Everything barring insertion of the pods is automatic. The only downside is that it is limited to its own brand for pods, but they’re delicious anyways, so I don’t mind.

The quality of the coffee this makes is pretty good. The cream and texture is rich and the machine is very versatile. I am especially happy with the fact that it produces a consistent result every time and it is so convenient to use.

Rancilio HSD-ROC-SD Rocky Espresso Coffee Grinder

The Rancilio Rocky Espresso coffee grinder is for the coffee connoisseur who wants to have more control over his grounds. Every brewing method requires a particular grind for giving the best results.

Although the ideal settings depends more on individual taste, there is a certain difference in grain size that distinguishes an espresso from a French press and a Turkish coffee. Featuring 50mm burr grinding plates made from the finest tempered steel, the Rancilio Rocky can deliver up to 55 different types of quality grounds, and all at the press of a button. And this is achieved simply by a twist of the grind dial. The ultra-fine threading gives you the versatility to go from espresso to drip to French press coffee, and any other type in between.

The signs of a good coffee grinder is in its rotation speed, heat generated and the sound produced. Higher grinding speed means a higher amount of heat produced. If too much heat is produced while grinding the beans, it dilutes out the flavor of the resulting coffee. What you need is high torque with low speed (RPM) to efficiently power through the beans. Rancilio Rocky’s tempered steel grinding plates rotate at super slow speeds, which is just ideal to get the best flavor from your beans. The 166-watt direct drive motor is also insulated to prevent overheating. So even if there is a jam in the grinding mechanism or inadvertent over-heating, the device conveniently shuts down to prevent damage. Moreover, the burrs hardly make the annoying burr sound. In fact, the Rancilio Rocky’s motor is one of the quietest among grinders available.

The hopper to hold the coffee beans is tinted for UV protection of your beans, but is still transparent enough for you to easily see through for monitoring your bean level. The hopper has the capacity to hold over a half pound of beans, and allows easy cleaning. In fact, the grinder is capable of grinding up to 7.7 pounds of beans per hour. The hopper helps keep the coffee fresh and ready to grind as and when needed.

Doser or No Doser?

The grinder comes in two varieties – with doser and without doser. The advantage of the doser is that it gives out exactly 7 grams of coffee to be collected in your porta filter. This makes it very convenient for large batches of espresso shots, as it saves you the effort of measuring out the ground coffee each time. With the doserless variety, however, you have more manual control over the amount, making it a good choice if you mostly use your machine to make a shot or two for yourself. Whether with doser or doserless, each comes with its own pros and cons, and in the end, it is you who should decide whether you prefer flexibility or convenience. Even if you do purchase the one with the doser, you can always remove it if you find it inconvenient.

In the end, it all boils down to simply adjusting to your desired setting by unlocking the lever and a quick twist of the bean hopper, and you have a variety of grinds at your disposal from a fine powder to a coarse grind, and that too within seconds.

Rancilio Espresso Coffee Grinder

Features

  • Removable metal fork to hold your porta filter in place, so that grinds fall directly in.
  • Powerful 166-watt direct drive quiet operation motor.
  • Commercial Quality Grinding Burrs
  • 55 Grinder settings
  • Simple controls
  • Each unit is factory tested with real coffee beans
  • Tinted hopper with a 0.65lb capacity.
  • Simple variable grinder adjustment control.

Here are some testimonials from some of the buyers

Everyone should own a Rancilio Rocky grinder. Who likes waiting in long lines for expensive, but mediocre espresso when you can make an excellent shot yourself?

I love this grinder! The grind is very consistent each time and really fast. This is by far the best grinder for the money.

Breville BCG600SIL The Dose Control Pro Coffee Bean Grinder

When you want a simple grinder that will make you look like a coffee pro, you should try to get your hands on Breville’s ‘The Dose Control Pro’ grinder. With 60 different grind settings, you have 60 different kinds of coffee at your disposal from espresso to French Press.

Just when you think Breville has brought out their best product ever, they end up amazing you again and again with newer, trendier and better products. The texture of your coffee can be easily adjusted by a twist of the adjustment collar below the hopper.

Although this grinder has a lot of distinguishing features, one feature that sets it apart and that is actually the reason for its name is the ‘Dose Controller’. The precision electronic timer will allow you to adjust the grind time in one second increments to offer you more control over the doses. You can adjust your grind time for up to 50 seconds of continuous grinding by just turning a dial. You can also pause the grinding at any time, if you need to collapse or settle the coffee in the porta filter before continuing with the remaining dose. Simply press the start/cancel button to pause for up to 10 seconds. When done, you can start back up by pressing the same button again, and the grinder will continue grinding in the remaining time, without any need for adjustments from your side.

The conical shaped bean hopper has a capacity of 12 ounces of coffee beans and it comes with a convenient locking system so that you can easily remove the hopper form the grinder and disperse into an airtight container of your choice for storage. If you want you can even leave them in the hopper. The locking system and rubber padding on the cover make it airtight enough and the protective glass gives a decent protection from light, although for best results, I would suggest that you keep them in a dark place for complete protection and to preserve freshness.

The grinding process, which is, in the end, the main protagonist of the show is made possible by Stainless Steel Conical Burrs, with an adjustable upper burr. This upper burr can be removed and adjusted to grind to a finer or coarser setting than the 60 factory settings already on offer with the grind adjustment collar, thereby allowing to you to get an even more extended grinding range. These stainless steel conical burrs have been designed to minimize heat emitted while grinding so that the essential oils in your favorite coffee bean are well protected.

The grinds thus made can be easily collected in a porta filter, grind container, paper filter or gold tone filter basket. The product also comes with a removable grinds catcher tray in case of over-spills and the ground-breaking Breville Assist Plug. Although more than 50% of the grinder body is made from plastic, Breville has ensured that all parts in contact with the coffee are BPA Free, so that you are assured that the coffee that you consume is not affected by harmful chemicals from plastic parts. Other accessories include a Razor dosing tool and two separate porta filter holders. You will find the Razor dosing tool in a secret chamber inside the catcher tray. Also called as the trimming tool, it allows you to easily adjust the coffee in your porta filter by leveling it off before tamping. The tool has settings for trimming portas of size 50, 54 and 58mm. The additional porta filter holders are designed to hold a 50mm and a 58mm porta.

And in the end if you feel apprehensive or overwhelmed with all the choices of grind settings, Breville has thoughtfully included a handy coffee chart in their user manual to suggest what type of grind you need, grind setting range and the amount of time you should grind, based on what kind of coffee you want.

Features

  • Stainless Steel conical burrs with minimized heat production
  • 60 precise grind settings
  • Precision Electronic Timer
  • Hopper with 12oz coffee bean capacity and locking system
  • Can grind directly into porta filter, grinds container, gold tone filter basket or paper filter
  • 110-120 Volts
  • Includes two porta filter cradles and a Razor dosing tool.

Here are some comments from some of the buyers

This is exactly what I have been wanting. It is affordable compared to other professional burr grinders. And so quiet! I also love the storing system in the hopper. Helps extend the life of my coffee beans.

This is the perfect coffee grinder for me. I’ve been using it multiple times in the past months. And it produced the same result every time.

Bialetti 5293 Moka Emotion Espresso Maker

There’s always a beauty in simplicity and the Bialetti Moka Espresso Maker does just that. It is just a simple espresso maker that goes on your stove top to ooze out aromatic coffee goodness to fill up your senses and your entire home.

The Italians certainly know how to celebrate life and understand how important a good cup of coffee can be for that. Their passion for coffee is reflected by the fact that there’s a Bialetti in nine out of ten Italian households. They affectionately call it the ‘caffettiera’. And the world is catching up to them too. Bialetti has become a leading brand worldwide in the art of coffee making.

It is such a cute and traditional looking coffee pot, but one cup can serve up to 6 cups of espresso of 1.5 shot volumes. It comes in a variety of colors like red, black and silver, but my favorite is the red one. Makes it look like Aladdin’s magic lamp, only that instead of a genie, it spews out hot caffeine reach coffee that can magically transform your mood. It is lightweight and can work with any type of stove top.

Although it’s not an espresso maker in the traditional sense, a good number of people have devised their own techniques and recipes to use the Bialetti Moka Pot to brew their own versions of homemade espresso. I want to share with you my favorite technique:

  • Using organic roasted beans that are not roasted too dark, grind just a step above espresso grind, but a step below fine drip.
  • Fill the funnel with the coffee and lightly tamp it. That means don’t press it too much, just slightly run your finger over the top to smooth it out. This is crucial to the quality of your end product.
  • Put cold water in the water pot.
  • Mount on the stove at low heat. This is important as high heat will cause it to get done too quickly and ruin the flavor or may end up giving a burnt aftertaste.
  • Heat with the lid open for about 10 minutes. The coffee should trickle down the spout into the coffee pot and not jump out like a volcano.
  • Soon as this happens, remove from the stove to avoid any risk of burning the brew.
  • Pour into your espresso cups and enjoy!

Be sure to clean up after use with hot water only and avoid dishwashers and harsh soaps. Try it out and experience for yourself why the Italians are so much in love with this product.

Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker

Features

  • Suitable for 6 cups
  • Can work with all types of stoves, except induction cookers
  • Made of double twisted polished aluminum and plastic
  • Easy to clean

According to some customers who have made this moka pot a habit

I went from a french press to using this on a daily basis. I love the smooth taste of the coffee it makes, so much better than coffeemakers.

I really like the moka this pot produces. The amount of flavor it packs is unbelievable!

If you ask me, I believe all-in-one coffee makers can never match up to the ones which are specialized in just one task. Personally I would recommend you to use the Rancilio HSD-ROC-SD Rocky Espresso Coffee Grinder in conjunction with the Bialetti 5293 Moka Emotion Espresso Maker. That way you will have better control over both the grind and the brew. There is a magic and individuality in one’s hands that no machine can match and the Moka Pot allows you to give your coffee your own personal touch, when combined with your own personalized grind of coffee.

I do hope you found my article on the best coffee grinders for espresso helpful. Share with others if you did. If you need any further information or would like me to post other topics on coffee and coffee makers, do leave your comments below.

Write A Comment